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Riding through retirement on a journey for a good cause

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Wellington cyclist Jude Willis, 73, completed a 1000km cycle ride across the North Island to raise money for the Wellington Multiple Sclerosis Society.

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Wellington cyclist Jude Willis, 73, completed a 1000km cycle ride across the North Island to raise money for the Wellington Multiple Sclerosis Society.

A retired Wellington woman has completed a remote 1000km solo cycle ride from East Cape to Cape Egmont, the westernmost point of Taranaki, to help a friend with multiple sclerosis.

Jude Willis always had a hankering to cycle through Te Urewera and camp beside Lake Waikaremoana.

The 73-year-old expanded her adventure instead to make the lengthy east-west traverse of the North Island to highlight a friend’s battle with multiple sclerosis.

Willis enjoys a coffee at Pukeiti Rhododendron Garden before the last section of her 1000km journey from East Cape to Cape Egmont.

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Willis enjoys a coffee at Pukeiti Rhododendron Garden before the last section of her 1000km journey from East Cape to Cape Egmont.

Willis completed the 18-day journey on Thursday when she arrived at the Cape Egmont lighthouse after leaving East Cape on February 9.

READ MORE: Green MP Golriz Ghahraman reveals she has multiple sclerosis

She rode 15 days, taking days off at Lake Waikaremoana, Rotorua and New Plymouth to rest.

The former laboratory scientist said she settled on the idea to cycle the rugged and remote route shortly before Christmas.

“The Waikaremoana road has always been on my mind and I’ve wanted to do something to help my friend who is finding having MS hard,” she said.

“Having MS is a solo journey for those who have it and I wanted to do the cycle on my own to try and give my friend a boost.”

The disorder, which affected the central nervous system, most commonly presents in women between 20 and 50 years old, with the average age of 37.

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman​ this week revealed she had been diagnosed with MS 18 months ago.

Willis said she avoided organised multi-day events but had completed solo biking trips the length of both the North and South Islands at separate times, as well as a 1000km ride in 2019 from Munda Biddi​ to Albany in Western Australia.

“When you are retired you can do these things and I’m never in a hurry,” she said.

“You can stop on the way and get eye contact with someone and start talking to them.”

A Givealittle page set up by Willis had so far raised $2235 for the Wellington Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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